Kushner and a contingency of White House aides received a memo Friday indicating that they no longer had access to the nation's most sensitive information, Politico reported Tuesday. Kushner and fellow aides were informed that they would only have access to "secret" information and not "TS/SCI" levels, a government acronym for "top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information."
The reason for Kushner's downgrade is not yet clear.
The only way to receive SCI is to walk into a secure room after having first ditched your phone and other personal items.
While the president has the authority to return Kushner's TS/SCI clearance, he demurred when asked by reporters last week if he would reinstate Kushner's clearance in the event it was lost or downgraded. "I will let General Kelly make that decision," Trump said Friday, adding, "I have no doubt he'll make the right decision."
According to Politico, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly did not sign the memo downgrading Kushner's clearance.
The issue of permanent and interim clearances is not brand new. Kushner's previous interim clearances did not vet him fully to get permanent clearance. The clearance process takes so long that granting temporary clearances is one of the only ways for the government to keep projects going while officials do background investigations.
With a backlog of at least 700,000 people seeking clearance, temporary credentials have become a necessity. Last fall, Defense Security Service Director Dan Payne said, "If we don't do interim clearances, nothing gets done."
But interim clearances are far from ideal. "I have rapists, pedophiles and people involved in child porn — I have all these things at the interim clearance level and I'm pulling their clearances on a weekly basis," the senior Pentagon official said.